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Wal-Mart heir dies in plane crash

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(CNN) -- Wal-Mart heir John Walton died Monday when his ultralight aircraft crashed after taking off from an airport in Jackson, Wyoming, the company announced.

Walton, 58, was the second son of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton and served on the board of directors of the world's largest retailer.

He was ranked No. 7 on the Forbes magazine list of the 400 wealthiest Americans in 2004, with a fortune estimated at $20 billion.

Wal-Mart has stores in the United States, Canada, Britain and Central and South America. (Research)

Walton died when his plane crashed shortly after takeoff from Jackson Hole Airport shortly after 12:15 p.m. (2:15 p.m. ET), said Joan Anzelmo, a spokeswoman for Grand Teton National Park.

The airport, which serves the resort town of Jackson and the surrounding area, is on the park grounds.

The aluminum-frame aircraft went down "almost immediately after takeoff" and in full view of passing motorists on an adjacent highway, Anzelmo said. The cause of the crash was under investigation, she said.

Walton served in the Vietnam War as a combat medic with the Army's elite Special Forces, winning the Silver Star for saving lives under fire, according to a statement from the Bentonville, Arkansas-based company.

He sat on the board of the Walton Family Foundation, the family's philanthropic enterprise.

The foundation supports the establishment of charter schools, offers scholarships for children to attend private schools and lobbies for education reform in Arkansas schools.

He is survived by his wife, Christy, and son Luke; his mother, Helen; brothers Rob and Jim Walton; and sister, Alice.

Helen Walton and all four of her children were ranked among the top 10 on the Forbes list.

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